Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The UnQueering of Second Life

The following mini-essay was originally posted (with a few minor differences) on the SL Forums on the 14 April, 2011. It has since generated (and indeed, continues to generate) a fair amount of discussion there (nearly 400 posts and counting). The subject seemed appropriate to this blog, and will, I hope, generate some discussion among a new audience here.

There has been a fair amount of discussion, in an enormous variety of venues including academic studies, blogs, and forums, both recently and in the past, about the issue of “gender bending” and, in a more general sense, about identity in SL. It seems likely, in fact, that evidence of the social anxiety and, occasionally, moral panic that is evoked by the freedom with which SL allows one to shape one’s own identity independently of “first life” associations has been around for as long as SL itself. Broadly speaking, the debate is often reductively broken down to a conflict between “augmentationists” and “immersionists,” and the salient terms of the discussion – “dishonesty,” “freedom,” “abuse” to name but a few, signal the importance of what is at stake for many.

I want to try re-opening this discussion from a slightly different perspective. Although my own ideological biases will be very clear, I’m not interested in castigating one side or the other so much as I want to briefly highlight what I think is gained, in larger social terms, by the freedom to experiment with identity in SL. I want in particular to consider this in terms of the concept of “queering” identity.

“Queer” has long been, of course, a pejorative term thrown against the LGBTI community, but it is one that has also been re-appropriated by that community: “Queer” is now a term that is as often employed proudly as it is as an insult. From this re-appropriation has arisen the idea of “queering,” which has come to mean a way of challenging accepted perceptions of something with the intent of showing that those perceptions are built upon false assumptions and myths. “Queering” in this sense is really a process of “making strange,” a kind of shifting or even distortion of perspective that forces us to perceive anew, and in different ways, objects, ideas, and socially-constructed conceptions that we otherwise take for granted. I think that this is something that SL does very very well.

My own feeling, however, is that this side of SL is being threatened as never before. The newish focus of Linden Lab itself upon social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as a means to both disseminate information and network within the virtual world is an important instance, but so too is the advocacy for stronger and more transparent links between SL and RL identities that we are hearing from many commentators on Second Life. The spread of in-world groups that promise the “verification” of gender (generally by voice) of members is another manifestation of this.

By “unQueering,” then, I don’t mean that this necessarily threatens the LGBTI community in SL (although I suspect it may, in some ways). I mean rather that there is an increasing degradation of the way in which SL’s “strangeness,” and its disconnect from RL identities and significations, forces us on a daily basis to grapple with and question our own assumptions about the “naturalness” of gender characteristics and other aspects of our identity and interactions with the real world that would otherwise go unchallenged.

A case in point is a recent thread here, entitled “How can you tell if someone is male or female”? It’s a question that is nearly inconceivable in “real life,” but it, or variations upon it, has become, in Second Life, a classic articulation of the social anxiety and moral panic about the instability of identity here. What does such a question really mean? “Male” or “female” in this context implicitly refers to biological sex, rather than to gender: the question is really about what set of RL genitalia a person is equipped with. That the answer to this question is surely irrelevant in the context of a virtual world, where there is no access to, or conceivable use for, RL genitalia, is masked by a second assumption of this question: that there should be some correspondence with how someone represents themselves in SL – their culturally-defined gender -- and their biological sex. Behind this question is the need to assure oneself that the represented gender is “authentic,” that it is “true,” that it is “honest.”

Ironically, the weakness of this assumption is embedded within the question itself: if represented gender can be so “convincing” that the question needs to be asked in the first place, then there clearly is no necessary connection between gendered behaviour and biological sex. “Gendered” behaviour – how, for instance a “woman” talks, thinks, reacts, or even makes love – is arbitrary and unrooted; the success with which a new gender role can be assumed by those of a different biological sex underscores the degree to which it is a “learned” behaviour, assimilated from our cultural norms, stereotypes, and assumptions. Ironically, it is possible that those who deliberately adopt the cultural stereotypes, by role playing “womanly” or “manly” in a recognizable and accepted manner, may be those who are most readily accepted as their represented gender.

Those who are distressed by the lack of clear and intrinsic connection between RL identity and SL identity are making another fundamental mistake in imagining that it is only SL identity that is unstable and unrooted. We are all of us, in our everyday lives in the physical world, constantly performing, assuming different roles as is necessary, becoming, in fact, different versions of ourselves. All of these roles – professional, close friend, lover, and myriads of others – are aspects of ourselves; all are subtly or not so subtly differentiated, and all are authentic.

In SL, the most obvious manifestation of this aspect of our identity (or identities) is the much-maligned and often feared “alt.” There are of course many reasons to create and keep an alt, but one of the most common is to express a side of oneself that one wishes to keep separate, or can’t express for whatever reason, through one’s “main.” Alts can, of course, be used consciously to deceive, but the issue there is not the “alt” itself, but rather the inherent dishonesty of the typist. Most alts, even ones that seem to represent identities at enormous variance with our perceived RL identity, are in some sense expressions of who we are, of who we want to be, or how we wish to see ourselves: they are all authentic.

I don’t want to attack those who distrust SL identity, or who fear alts. Their questioning of the moral “rightness” of gender bending, pseudonymity, and alts does no more than echo assumptions about stable identities that are repeated, and almost enforced, in RL. In a strange – or queer – way, the very fact of questions like these underscores the power of Second Life to challenge assumptions about identity and gender even as it highlights our discomfort with the reality that our biological sex (to name but the most common anxiety) need have nothing to do with social behaviour

A final thought: SL makes us seem queer even to ourselves. It encourages introspection and self-discovery in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, as most obviously when we experiment with an aspect of ourselves that we would never dare or think to give expression to in RL. I was once asked if “I was bi in SL.” It was an interesting question, with its assumption that I might be something in a virtual world that I was not in “reality.” I decided, after some introspection, that I was not, but what was of value was the very fact that the question forced me to evaluate my responses.

The pressure is on, then, to reduce the distortion, the “queerness” of SL. And this, I am arguing, is a bad thing. Bad because, however comforted we might be by the illusion that there are no difficult questions and that our reductive understandings about gender, about others, and about ourselves are valid, it means that SL will cease to challenge our preconceptions, our stereotypes, and our comforting fictions.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Minutes of the SLLU Feminist Network Meeting, 19 September, 2010

The SLLU Feminist Network met on Sunday, 19 September: our particular focus was to follow up our discussions of the previous meeting concerning the imminent arrival on the SL main grid of 16 and 17 year-olds from the soon-to-be closed teen grid.

The meeting began, however, with a brief discussion of a notification from Ledoof Constantineau regarding a proposal to help establish a presence for the RL group Take Back the Tech in Second Life. It was generally agreed that establishing closer connections with RL activist groups would be beneficial, and that we should assist in whatever way possible. This will be a subject for a future meeting.

Discussion about the integration of teens into the main grid began with a general acknowledgment that there was probably not a great deal of point in debating the wisdom of this move by LL, despite some concerns, as it is now an inevitability. Instead, we agreed to devote our attention to ways in which we, as a group, might assist the incoming teens, and in particular, how we might best help "street proof" them to protect them from predators in SL, as well as from recruitment and potential "grooming" by groups likely to be attracted to the prospect of victimizing or suborning younger women and men.

There was some discussion as well as to how we might use this as an opportunity to bring our message to a new, younger audience, although there was concern expressed as well that this might seem too much like the very "recruitment" that we want to discourage other (admittedly dangerous and suspect) groups from engaging in. Overall, there was no clear consensus on the mechanics of this, although general agreement bringing the message of feminism to teens was a worthy goal.

It was noted that while teens on the main grid will be restricted to "General" areas, this will not entirely restrict their access to representations of misogyny and gender violence in SL. More worrisome still, there are no special mechanisms to protect teens from griefers and sexual predators and recruiters willing to venture into "General" areas in search of prey. The consensus was that the best way to deal with this was by educating teens on what to avoid, and how to deal with predators should they be encountered.

Over the course of our discussion, we determined upon a four-pronged strategy:

  • Revamp and update the SL Newbie Women's Survival Kit to include more information likely to be useful to teens, including a set of definitions of terms (such as BDSM) with which they might not be familiar

  • Include in any information that we make available to teens an invitation to join the SLLU Feminist Network, as a kind of low-key and hopefully unobtrusive way of attracting younger women and men to the group.

  • Create a "teen chapter" of the SLLU Feminist Network specifically for teens. One reason for this is that Flagg, and the current Headquarters of both the SLLU and SLLUFN, is on "Moderate"-rated land, which will be inaccessible to teens. We will need to address the issue of a meeting place for teens.

  • In an attempt to broaden our reach and appeal, to approach some other likely groups about partnering in our efforts to reach out to and educate the incoming teens. In part, this is in response to the general agreement that, as a self-identified "feminist" group, we are less likely to attract young men. Partnering with other groups will also extend our reach, generally, as well as allaying somewhat criticisms that we are covertly on a "recruitment" drive.
A number of potential groups were suggested, including the newbie instructional programme at Caledon Oxbridge, and VWER (the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable). The SLLU itself will prove useful as a "partner" in this as well. It was suggested that we contact Carl Metropolitan, who has a long history of, and excellent reputation for his work educating and helping newbies, about partnership possibilities. Other suggestions included approaching some of the more "conservative" groups in SL, including possibly a few of the less conservative Christian groups operating in SL. The idea, raised at our previous meeting, of looking for BDSM groups with a record or interest in trying to prevent abuse in D/s relationships was mooted again, and dismissed as impractical and problematic.

Much hilarity ensued in the course of our attempts to imagine a joint SLLUFN-BDSM partnership, and the meeting ended.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Announcing the SL Left Unity’s “Consumer Watch”: A New Feminist Blog for Second Life.

The SL Left Feminist Network is excited to announce the launch of a new blog focused upon feminist issues and Second Life, the “SLLU Feminist Network Consumer Watch.” The “Consumer Watch” will highlight and analyze products available for sale in Second Life that tap into the lucrative market for violent pornography and role play.

Why have we decided to create this new information source?

At one time, “Your World, Your Imagination” was the sales pitch, and indeed, philosophical underpinning for Second Life. Thousands of residents took this mantra to heart, and sought to make this virtual world a place to explore their own expansive imaginations, and transcend the narrow limits of our everyday physical existence. One result has been the creation within this virtual world of unparalleled new forms of art, of landscapes of breathtaking beauty and scope, and of liberating experiments in social organization and personal identity.

But there has always been, of course, a darker side to Second Life, epitomized in the subcultures that have chosen not to see the boundless potential of this virtual world as a way of imagining something better for human kind, but rather as a means of indulging in the some of the very worst instincts that still prey upon our culture. Nothing embodies this retrograde approach to the potential of Second Life more than those varieties of role play that fetishize and indeed celebrate sexual violence. Dolcett, Vore, snuff and rape role play, sexual age play, Gor, and some of the more extreme fringes of BDSM have parasitically infested Second Life for nearly as long as the application has existed, ensuring that this virtual world reflects not only the very best that the human imagination can conjure, but also, sadly, the very worst that human civilization has wrought.

If Second Life truly were nothing more than a mere “fantasy world,” and the borders between it and “real life” as impermeable as some like to pretend, the existence of grotesquely violent sexual role play here would be offensive, but not necessarily worrisome. But Second Life is, in truth, an extension of “real life”: those who enact scenes of violence against women here are indulging their real life predilections, while those who immerse themselves in such role play are carrying those experiences and their emotional and psychological consequences with them back into the physical world. What happens in Second Life DOES matter; it both reflects and impacts upon the real world.

And for this reason, it is time to shine a little light upon the darker corners of this, our virtual world.

"The SLLU Feminist Network Consumer Watch" is committed to doing just this. Features will focus upon animations, skins, clothing, and furniture available for purchase that normalize and trivialize gender violence, or otherwise reinforce dangerous and harmful misogynist attitudes. In addition to providing an overview of such content, usually highlighting the work of an individual content creator, each blog article will include a feminist analysis of the reviewed products.

Through its examination of these products, "The Consumer Watch" will offer a frank and often deeply disturbing insight into those subcultures within Second Life that role play explicit and extreme scenarios of sexual violence. It will demonstrate that rape, snuff, and other violent forms of sexualized role play are expressions of harmful and deep-seated misogynist attitudes, and it will argue that such role play, far from being harmless "fantasy," does impact negatively upon real life perspectives on and approaches to gender equality and social justice.

Because the most democratic and effective means of responding to the sale of violently misogynist content is the consumer boycott, "The Consumer Watch" will also maintain a running "Boycott Notification" list of content creators.

We invite you to visit the “Consumer Watch,” and join in the conversations there.

The first two blog posts for the "Consumer Watch" are now online:

"Battle Royale Redivivus"

An analysis of the unresolved "Battle Royale" skin controversy that swirled around Gala Phoenix's *Curio* skin line in October of last year.
WARNING: Contains mild images of violence that may be triggering]

"In Which We Dipp into the Dark Side"

With images:

Text only:

An examination of a few of the snuff, rape, and bondage devices offered for sale by Dipp Canning's *Dip Dexines*.

[WARNING: Contains language and images of extreme violence.]

For a general introduction to the “Consumer Watch,” see:

Questions and comments regarding the “SLLU Feminist Network Consumer Watch” can be sent to:

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

SLLU and SLLUFN Birthday Party this Sunday!!

Sunday, 21 February
12 Noon SLT to 6 pm SLT

Oh, how quickly a year . . . or three . . . passes!

Yes, it’s a little belated. But the Third Birthday Party for the SLLU is fast approaching, this Sunday at the SLLU land on Flagg! This year the SLLU will be sharing birthday honours with the SLLU Feminist Network, which is one year old this February! As well, we will be highlighting the newest member of the family, the SLLU LGBTI Network.

The festivities will kick off at 12 Noon SLT with some brief (we promise!) opening remarks. Then we have a schedule of poetic and musical talent that should keep everyone happily engaged for hours to come:

12:05 SLT: Radical Poetry

1:00 SLT: Zaphod Theas

2:00 SLT: The Virtual Live Band

3:00 SLT: Wildo Hofmann

There will be dancing, and a skating rink has been set up for those who wish to showcase their Olympic-quality stylings on the ice. The LGBT Network will be featuring an art exhibit, and we have a giant birthday cake that dispenses SLLU-flavoured freebies to lucky winners!

Keep an eye out on this space for further additions to the schedule.

And don’t forget to bring friends, families, and fellow travelers: this event is open to all!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

SL Left Unity Feminist Network Conduct Guidelines for Field Activism

On 27 November, 2009, the SL Left Unity Feminist Network mounted, in cooperation with other groups, its first really large scale protest with Second Life, at the "rape sim" Hard Alley. The event, which was organized as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, featured an impressive number of participants and garnered a very gratifying amount of attention in Second Life-related news sources and blogs. The success of this public protest has led to an affirmation of the group's commitment to further activist events of this nature.

As the SLLUFN and associated groups become more engaged with protests and other forms of activism in-world in Second Life, it has become desirable to codify in something like a formal way the standards of conduct expected of our activist members while "in the field." The Guidelines that appear below are really little more than a written articulation of the actual conduct of the group that participated in the Hard Alley protest. They were developed in consultation with members of the SLLUFN during two separate meetings of that group in January of this year.

These are not written in stone, and will undoubtedly be revised as further experience and thought seem to require. Your comments on these Guidelines are welcome!


SL Left Unity Feminist Network Conduct Guidelines for Field Activism

From time to time, members of the SLLU Feminist Network and associated groups will be involved in active protests with Second Life, as for example setting up an information picket.

Those engaged in picketing or other protest actions will, of course, have their own views and perspectives on the activities being protested. It is not the intention of these conduct guidelines to restrict or censor the varied beliefs that may bring protestors together: we value a diversity of perspective.

At the same time, as peaceable residents of Second Life, we have all undertaken to abide by the rules set out in Linden Lab's Terms of Service and Community Standards. As feminists, we wish to highlight our nonviolent principles and respect for others. And, as members of a collective activist group, it is important that our individual actions reflect well upon those with whom we are protesting. If you intend to participate in the action, and regardless of whether or not you are a member of the SLLUFN, we would ask that your conduct conform to the guidelines below.

You should bear in mind that there is a high likelihood that your participation in a protest action may result in a banning from the targeted sim, and possibly also from associated sims.

  • Please do not interrupt or engage with people on the sim unless they first approach you. This includes passing unsolicited notecards to those within the sim.

  • Please do not interfere in any way with the activities of those on the sim, even if you find them objectionable.

  • For your own safety, do not exchange IMs with anyone on the sim. Should anyone attempt to engage you in a conversation in IM, insist upon it being in open chat.

  • Please do not employ abusive or vulgar language.

  • Please do not wear clothing (e.g., tee shirts with slogans) that might be construed as abusive, vulgar, or constituting a personal attack upon anyone in the sim.

  • Please do not file an Abuse Report against any objects or behaviours on the sim, unless they constitute a direct attack upon yourself.

  • Please do not record the names of anyone present on the sim, as this can be interpreted as threatening behaviour. We are not there to compile a registry of people engaged in objectionable activities.

  • Please do not employ push weapons, HUDS, or any other objects that impact or disturb others against their will.

  • Please to not employ chat or notecard spam, self-replicating objects, or anything else that might deliberately and severely the performance of the sim.
Although it is not obligatory, we recommend that if you are a member of the SLLUFN or associated group you wear the group tag for the purposes of identification. There two main reasons for this. First, it will link you to group IMs, better facilitating communication within the protest group. Second, it will make it easier to find and identify you should you require assistance of any sort.


For your convenience, a few relevant excerpts from Linden Lab's Community Standards document are reproduced below. Please note that these can be quite vague, and are open to the interpretation of any Linden Lab official who may respond to a reported violation.

1. Intolerance

[...] Actions that marginalize, belittle, or defame individuals or groups inhibit the satisfying exchange of ideas and diminish the Second Life community as a whole. The use of derogatory or demeaning language or images in reference to another Resident's race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is never allowed in Second Life.

2. Harassment

Given the myriad capabilities of Second Life, harassment can take many forms. Communicating or behaving in a manner which is offensively coarse, intimidating or threatening, constitutes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or is otherwise likely to cause annoyance or alarm is Harassment.

3. Assault

[...] Assault in Second Life means: shooting, pushing, or shoving another Resident in a Safe Area (see Global Standards below); creating or using scripted objects which singularly or persistently target another Resident in a manner which prevents their enjoyment of Second Life.

6. Disturbing the Peace

[...] Disrupting scheduled events, repeated transmission of undesired advertising content, the use of repetitive sounds, following or self-spawning items, or other objects that intentionally slow server performance or inhibit another Resident's ability to enjoy Second Life are examples of Disturbing the Peace.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

SLLU and SLLUFN Birthday Party!

Right, everyone pull out there calendars and pencil in a new date! Set aside 21 February, because that is the day that we celebrate the SLLU's Birthday, and the third productive and exciting year of its existence in Second Life.

The party will be held at Flagg, and will commence at Noon SLT. There will, of course, be live entertainment, dancing, skating, and all manner of good things to do and see.

This year, the party will be hosted by the SLLU Feminist Network, which will be celebrating its first birthday in February. We are delighted to have this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the SLLU for its committed support throughout what has been, for us, a wonderfully exciting and successful first year.

This year's celebration will also see a birth of a kind too, as we highlight the newest addition to the Left Unity fold, the SLLU LGBT Network. So there's another excellent reason to join with us in recognizing the achievements of the past year, and looking ahead to what promises to be a eventful and dynamic future.

We'll be posting more details about the upcoming party here as we near the event, so keep an eye on this space!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory Applied to Violence Against Women

I recently wrote a paper for my Advanced Theories of Personality course to apply a personality theory to a current social issue. I chose Bandura's theory in regards to violence against women. It made a lot of sense after hearing the lecture on it and connected so well in my mind. I also thought some of you might enjoy reading it so I decided to share. Enjoy! -Indy

Violence against women is defined as an act or threat of physical, sexual, or mental harm towards women. This is a global problem that spans all countries, races, classes, and cultures, and it is not as rare as people might think. A ten-country study found that up to 71% of women reported physical violence, sexual violence, or both (World Health Organization, 2005). In the United States, it is estimated that women are the victims of about 4.8 million instances of intimate partner violence (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2009). This problem is not isolated to adult women, as one in five high school girls have also been the victims of physical or sexual intimate partner violence (CDC, 2008a). The CDC (2008b) also found that 10.6% of women are the victims of rape, up to 25% of which are college age and 60.4% of which occurred before the age of 18. Those statistics do not include the unknown number of incidents that are not reported. What could possibly be the cause of such a widespread form of violence? Albert Bandura might argue that this behavior is caused by a combination of learning, cognitive, and environmental factors.

Bandura stated that behaviors can be learned by observation alone without having to perform that behavior first. Observational learning requires paying attention to a model’s behavior and retaining those observations, having a motivation to reproduce the behavior, and the act of reproducing that behavior. This process of modeling is more likely to occur if the observer puts more value on the outcome, the model is similar to or of higher status than the observer, or there is an opportunity to use the behavior. Consider a child who witnesses or experiences violence in the home. Children lack power compared to their parents and are likely to consider them important in their lives. Witnessing violence is a traumatizing experience and the memory of it is likely to remain vivid. It is common that perpetrators were witnesses or victims of violence as children (CDC, 2009). This demonstrates how children might learn about violent behaviors but does not explain why a child would reproduce that behavior as an adult.

Bandura also stated that people pay attention to the consequences, good or bad, of the behavior they observe. They then evaluate those consequences in order to guide their own behavior. If an observed behavior could bring about a desired consequence it is more likely the person will perform that action, thereby reinforcing that behavior and completing the process of enactive learning. While children witnessing violence maintain vivid and traumatizing memories of abuse, they also maintain and think about what resulted from the violence. Violence is often used in order to maintain control and in a relationship. If the victim of violence complies with demands as a result of the violence, the behavior is reinforced for the perpetrator as well as the observer. If the observer finds themselves in a similar situation they will evaluate that situation, their possible actions, and the possible consequences of those actions and act accordingly. The three factors of environment, behavior, and person or cognition interact and influence each other. Bandura referred to that constant process as triadic reciprocal causation. A person can control their behavior and guide their cognitions but it is not always possible for them to control their environment. Behavior can be encouraged and normalized due to observational learning and if a person has not learned that non-violent actions are possible in those situations, they are likely to continue reproducing that violent behavior.

However, that does not mean that violence is automatic or has to remain cyclical. Bandura believes that behavior is the result of human agency or the ability for people to maintain a degree of control over their lives. The concept of human agency takes into account the intention of behavior, forethought of consequences, ability to adjust behavior to changes, and self-reflection of motivations, actions, and consequences. In order for a person to control their behavior they require self-efficacy or the belief that they are capable of controlling their behavior. Self-efficacy is raised due to past successful experiences, observing successful social models, receiving believable social persuasion, and favorable physical and emotional states. For example, a violent person can adjust their repertoire to include non-violent actions by observing non-violent methods, attempting and successfully reproducing non-violent behavior, receiving encouragement to behave in a non-violent way, and reducing anger, anxiety, and other negative feelings.

It is easier to outline the path towards higher self-efficacy than to actually raise it but part of self-efficacy is understanding the amount of effort that is necessary to perform the desired behaviors. People with high levels of self-efficacy eventually increase their ability to self-regulate, reducing the disparity between accomplishments and goals and raising those goals. Self-regulation is the result of observing our own behavior, evaluating it, and our own reactions to our behavior. There are violent offender rehabilitation programs available but the success rate is dismal due to short duration of treatment, often as little as six weeks, and the unwillingness on the part of the offender to change their violent behavior. Rehabilitation would be more successful if offenders were treated for underlying problems in order to relieve negative emotions that may be impairing their openness to observe and learn from positive modeling. Rehabilitation rates would also benefit from increased duration of the programs since personal changes and observational and enactive learning can take a long time, often years.

Bandura, Ross, and Ross conducted a study in 1963 that offered evidence that modeled violence can result in further violence, rather than acting as a catharsis for aggressive tendencies. The original study involved modeling recorded adult violence against an inflatable clown known as a Bobo doll. Bandura and his colleagues went on to conduct studies involving recorded violence by a child, recorded violence with the aggressor wearing a cat costume, and violence by live adult models. They discovered that all children exposed to aggression increased their own aggressive behavior but more so after observing a live model. It was shown that boys were more aggressive than girls and that the effect was more powerful with a male model. In addition, boys were noted to have come up with new aggressive behaviors than the ones that were modeled.

Since then there have been numerous studies done using Bandura’s social cognitive theory to explain and modify behavior. This may be due to the benefit that it uses the same principles to explain and understand behavior as it does to change it. This factor offers very practical, specific guidelines to follow. In addition, it can be applied to a wide range of behaviors including basic, seemingly autonomic ones like driving a car to more complex behaviors such as violence against women. The present article only focused on children as witnesses to violent behavior as a cause of future violence against women but Bandura’s theory can be applied to other causes such as violence against women in media, pornography use, and rape culture. Since the theory is capable of generating more hypotheses to test and there is an innumerable amount of behavior realms to explore, there is an increase in the probability of falsifying the theory. Finally, Bandura’s theory takes a rather optimistic view of human behavior and personality. As a result, changing behavior may seem easier than it really is which may discourage people if immediate results are not achieved. But it does honestly offer the opportunity to understand and reduce the instances of violence against women.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008a). Intimate partner violence: Dating violence fact sheet. Retrieved December 1, 2009 from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008b). Sexual violence facts at a glance. Retrieved December 1, 2009 from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Understanding intimate partner violence fact sheet. Retrieved December 1, 2009 from

World Health Organization. (2005). WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence against women: Initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses. Retrieved December 1, 2009, from